N.J. lawmakers to discuss brewpub legislation Monday

Things may be looking up for New Jersey craft brewers later this year if legislation regarding the sale and promotion of craft beer in the Garden State is passed.

Bill S-641 developed by the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild would change the laws for companies by allowing those with brewpub licenses to open at more than two locations and distribute beer wholesale. The bill would also allow production breweries to sell beer on brewery tours and brewers to conduct informational sessions off site.

On Monday the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing to vote whether or not to push the bill forward. A final vote of the entire legislature could pass the bill into law before lawmakers convene for summer recess.

In the past year, many craft brewers who favor local ingredients have opened up shop in South Jersey. Recently, brewers showcased their beers at Atlantic City’s Beer Fest in March. In promoting this legislation, the Guild sites tourism and job creation.

Guild Treasurer and Flying Fish brewer Gene Muller said that the opening of an Iron Hill Brewpub creates about 100 jobs.  Muller says New Jersey only ranks 32nd in the amount of craft beer brewed in the state, behind states with a smaller population, such as New Mexico and New Hampshire.

Muller also points to the tourism initiative in Virginia, “Virginia is for Beer Lovers,” which invites visitors to enjoy the state’s craft brews.

“This is a growing industry,” said Muller, whose name appears on an online call to consumers to contact members of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee to voice support for S-641. The Guild believes that this legislation will give consumers better access to beer they love.

As for the outcome of Monday’s vote, Muller is optimistic because of strong bipartisan support.

“At this time, beer is the only thing they can agree on.”

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